Trekking and mountaineering in Peru
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The trip started on the 29th of April when we left Norway, heading for Peru. Our packs were filled with gear for trekking, glacier travel, climbing and camping.
We arrived in Lima where we spent a couple of days to make sure that our luggage was not lost in transit and that we had all our gear before continuing further to Cuzco. Took to opportunity to feast as much as possible, as we knew that the food while trekking was not going to be fantastic...
On the first of May we flew to Cuzco to meet up with our two companions for this trip, Gilles and Nathalie. Arriving in Cuzco at 3300 m was a bit tough, so the first days we took it easy, trying to get acclimatized. We checked out the market, where we could get fresh juices of every kind. However, I will not recommend the "Especial"....
During the first days, Kevin and I also took the opportunity to visit Pisac and its ruins. It was a fantastic day with gorgeous weather. We hired a guide (worth the money) to show us around the ruins, and spent about two hours walking around the site. Afterwards, we hiked down to the town of Pisac, visiting the market and enjoying some really good food at a nearby restaurant.
After 3-4 days in Cuzco, we took a bus to Cachora, the starting point for our first trek. Next morning we started trekking at six o'clock in the morning, being the seven of us: Kevin and I, Gilles and Nathalie, Albino (the arriero), a horse and a mule. After two days of trekking, which involved passing three valleys, we finally reached the ruins of Choquequirao. It was absolutely fantastic!
We continued another two days, before we reached Colcapampa. At this point I had a couple of knees that were not doing good at all, and we decided to speed up the trek a bit by taking a sort of private taxi to for the next kilometres. In an old Toyota Hiace, which was hardly able to keep itself together, we were driving along the ridge of a steep hill, crossing several landslides. But we safely reached the nearby village. From there the boys decided to hike the last bit to "Hidro Electrica", while the girls continued further with a "collectivo". Finally, we all met up at "Hidro Electrica" and went by train to Aguas Calientes. This evening we had a fantastic feast at a french restaurant in Aguas Calientes called "IndioFeliz". !
The highlight of this week was coming up: a visit to Machu Picchu! The boys were keen to go up Wayna Picchu as well, and were lining up around five o'clock in the morning for the bus to take them there. However, doing an effort at this early hour didn't help. When they arrived at the gate to Machu Picchu, the 400 tickets for Wayna Picchu was already taken. Anyhow, it turned out to be a fantastic day. We spent the whole day walking around the ruins and relaxing, and did not leave until the site was closing for the day. The day after we took the morning train to Ollantaytambo, and from there a taxi all the way back to Cuzco.
After a day or two in Cuzco, it was now time to get ready for the next part of our trip. We were going to transfer to Huaraz and Cordillera Blanca, where the boys were going to do some proper ice climbing. In Huaraz we checked ourselves into a hostel/hotel called "La Casa de Zarela", owned by the nice lady Zarela. She was very helpful and also had knowledge about the different treks, climbs and snow conditions. We started out with an easy acclimatization hike around Cordillera Negra - Punta Callan, taking a taxi up to 4200 m and from there hiking up to 4600 m.
For the next trek we decided to climb Vallunaraju. A peak situated not too far from Huaraz. We actually had a nice view of it from the hostel. It was a dusty a bumpy taxi ride to get to the starting point of this climb. We were driving for approximately two hours on a road which mostly consisted of rocks. The first day we hiked up to 4900 m and set up camp at the foot of the glacier. Woke up around three o'clock in the evening, not feeling very good, as this was our first night sleeping at this altitude. Consequently, we were moving very slowly up the glacier, but around nine o'clock we reached 5686 m, the top of Vallunaraju. Lucky with the weather again, hardly a cloud in the sky.
The guys now felt ready for some proper climbing. And we transferred to Caraz. From there we headed out to Laguna Paron, as the guys had singled out Artesonraju and Piramide for their next climbs. However, in this area it is not possible to hire an "arriero" to carry heavy gear, as there is no food for the animals around the base camps. It was therefore quite tough to hike up to the glacier with heavy packs. We also had the first day of bad weather. On our way up it started snowing. The aim was to set up camp on the glacier itself in order to make it easier for the guys with respect to the climbs, but due to the weather conditions we had to set up camp on the moraine instead. Unfortunately, the weather was not going to cooperate the following days. The summit of Piramide was mostly covered in clouds. The guys had a go at Artesonraju one of the days, and shoveled their way up to approximately 5950 m, but had to turn around just below the summit because the snow conditions were such that it was too time-consuming to go up and it was getting late. After four days at base camp, we decided to return to Caraz and further to Huaraz.
Disappointed that they had not been able to climb Piramide, the guys decided to climb Ocshapalca (ED). The ladies, on the other hand, headed out for an easy hike to Laguna Churup (4450 m). The same evening I headed back to Lima by bus. Work was calling back in Norway, but the others were going to stay longer in Peru and enjoy a couple of more climbs....